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Vehicle Deaths

Michael Gil/flickr

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic deaths surged about 8 percent during the first nine months of last year. As reported by the New York Times, that represents a continuation of an upward spiral that may be partially explained by the presence of more Americans on the roads due to the ongoing economic recovery. Low gas prices are also inducing more driving.

However, the rise in deaths is outpacing the increase in travel. While deaths were up 8 percent during the first nine months of last year, vehicle miles traveled were upon only three percent during the same period. The increase in deaths is particularly concerning since cars are safer than ever. Nearly all new vehicles have electronic stability control and more come with technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and blindspot monitoring.

But there are countervailing social forces at work such as increased use of cellphones and other mobile devices behind the wheel. Researchers are also trying to determine whether marijuana legalization is leading to more crashes. Weather represents another potential factor, with fatalities in New England rising by 20 percent during the first nine months of 2016.    

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.